Archive for Wednesday, April 26, 2000

It’s time for Harvest House

April 26, 2000

If a single restaurant could define what city slickers think of Kansas, Harvest House could be it.

There's Aunt Norma's "home-baked" pies, Karen Bartlett's fried chicken, lighter-than-air dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, fried catfish, charbroiled steaks, and all the fixins. What hungry diner could ask for more?

For a while last fall, there was talk that Harvest House might close. Owner Karen Bartlett looked into buying Tonganoxie's Fourth Street CafBut she and her husband, Butch, decided to keep the McLouth restaurant open.

And so today, Harvest House visitors are still greeted by most of the same good cooks and friendly waitresses as before, and they still get to enjoy the array of antiques, collectibles, family heirlooms and even pictures of the owner's family that line the walls.

Calico curtains and a red and white checkered linoleum floor tie the atmosphere together, almost, one might say, like the ribbons on the back of a grandmother's apron.

Right now, Karen Bart-lett's doing almost all of the cooking herself. Her parents, Raymond and Lela Thomas, Basehor, dropped in for a Harvest House lunch last Thursday.

Lela Thomas decided to go for the fried chicken and her husband, the chicken fried steak.

Karen Bartlett's culinary talents began long ago, her mother said.

"My mother and grandmother were both good cooks," Lela Thomas said. "They lived on a farm and cooked a lot, so Karen was always used to good food."

And pies. Norma Thomas, Bartlett's aunt, drives over from her Tonganoxie home twice a week to make pies.

"Aunt Norma's so good," Bartlett said. "She can whip out those pies faster than you can say scat."

She'd be lost, she said, without her good help. There's Phyllis Petesch, 72, and April Harper, Bartlett's niece, who greet patrons at the front door and take their orders. And there's the new manager, Cheryl Artman, Oskaloosa, who's worked for Bartlett for several years.

Artman said she's looking forward to having Bartlett teach her how to cook. And Bartlett's glad to have Artman as manager.

"Cheryl's a good people-person," Bartlett said. "I don't think you can find anybody unless it's a really bad person who doesn't like Cheryl."

Cheryl Artman smiled and said, "Yeah, and I'd do my best to make them smile, too."

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